Campaign spending is 'out of control,' Bachmann says

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Rep. Michele BachmannMichele BachmannTrump says 2016 is the GOP's last chance to win Bachmann: Clinton will prosecute churches and nonprofits The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Minn.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) generally don't agree on much. But on Wednesday, the conservative firebrand said there should be a debate about the exorbitant amount of money spent in campaigns.

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Bachmann, who is retiring from the House at the end of this year, lamented the pressure on incumbent lawmakers to raise millions of dollars for reelection. Spending by well-funded outside groups is a threat to democracy, she added.

"I think that we should have the debate and talk it through because the numbers are out of control. It's like nothing we've ever seen before. I think it's just not healthy for a constitutional republic to survive," Bachmann told The Hill in an interview.

The Minnesota Republican argued that unlimited spending by outside political organizations diminished average Americans' ability to influence elections.

"Real people have to have the chance to weigh in. And they don't have as much of a chance to weigh in when it's a couple of billionaires that are buying elections," Bachmann said. 

Bachmann suggested that Minnesota's campaign spending limits on state races could serve as an example. During an event Wednesday sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, she recalled being awed by the limit of about $50,000 in her first campaign for the Minnesota state Senate in 2000. 

"I thought $50,000 was the moon and the stars. I thought, how would I ever raise that kind of money?" Bachmann said.

That's nothing compared to the money she says members of Congress are expected to rake in now. Bachmann raised more money than any other House candidate in the last two election cycles: $15 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2010.

"That's crazy money. That's crazy that any candidate should have to raise that kind of money," Bachmann said.

Bachmann's comments sound similar to Reid's, who has repeatedly blasted billionaires Charles and David Koch for "attempting to buy our democracy."

By contrast, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is a strong supporter of allowing individuals and groups to spend as much money as they want in elections as an expression of free speech.

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